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Rheumatoid Arthritis Becoming Serious Health Concern for North Little Rock Residents | Health

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Becoming Serious Health Concern for North Little Rock Residents
Rheumatoid Arthritis Becoming Serious Health Concern for North Little Rock Residents

The issue of the graying population brings with it a number of health issues. Normal wear and tear on joints is to be expected as over time, leading to some discomfort and stiffness. Many people develop rheumatoid arthritis as they get older, and this inflammatory condition is part of a growing health issue that will continue to put a strain on the health care system. North Little Rock residents need to be aware of this health condition and the steps they can take to minimize disability for themselves and their loved ones. 

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition where the immune system attacks synovium, the membrane that lines the joints. Fluid builds up in the joints. The person living with this chronic condition experiences pain in the affected areas, as well as inflammation throughout his or her body. It is a chronic condition, which means there is no cure. A person living with rheumatoid arthritis may have some periods of remission in between more intense flares. When the disease is in remission, he or she may not be bothered much by the pain or joint issues at all. 

Arthritis Prevalence in the United States

The following statistics were provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC):

  • One in five adults reports having been diagnosed with arthritis by his or her doctor.
  • Half of adults aged 65 years of age or older stated they had been diagnosed with arthritis (2007-2009).
  • Approximately in 150 children in the United States under the age of 18 has some type of arthritis or a rheumatic condition. This number works out to 294,000 youngsters. 
  • By the year 2030, approximately 67 million Americans over the age of 18 are expected to have been diagnosed with arthritis. 
  • In 2007, 1.5 million adults had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. 

How is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed

A person who is experiencing difficulty with joint stiffness should make note of this symptom over a few months. Stiffness in the hands first thing in the morning may be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis and should be checked out by a doctor. Other signs of this health issue are pain and swelling in the joints. The skin in the joint area may appear pink or red compared to neighboring skin. Someone living with rheumatoid arthritis may also experience muscle aches and fatigue. Loss of appetite is another symptom of this disease. Even though some of these symptoms may be confused with having the flu, the presence of joint redness and stiffness should lead the doctor to consider arthritis as the cause of the symptoms. An electrolyte panel test may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. This blood test is used to assess the fluid levels and electrolyte balance. Once the condition has been confirmed, the doctor can recommend treatment options.

Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis After Diagnosis

Even though there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, this health condition can be managed with appropriate treatment to help those affected stay active for as long as possible. Medications can be prescribed to reduce inflammation and ease suffering. Patients should provide their doctor with a list of all medications they are currently taking, including any over the counter and herbal remedies they are using. Regular activity can help someone who has been diagnosed with arthritis feel more comfortable and delay the onset of disability. Thirty minutes of physical activity, five times per week is recommended by the CDC. The activity can be split into 10-minute increments. Walking, cycling and swimming are all good choices, since they don't put a lot of strain on joints. 

People who are overweight are at higher risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis and related disorders. Staying physically active reduces this risk, and contributes to heart health. Losing even 10 lb. can help to ease the strain on the knees and hips and reduce pain substantially.

Since the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis increases with age, all residents of North Little Rock should start taking good care of their joints now. Get active and get to or maintain a healthy weight. See a doctor if early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis appear. Early diagnosis and treatment can mean people with this disorder will be able to enjoy more active lives longer than if they waited until the disease progressed to seek help. 

Waiting will only make the condition more difficult and expensive to deal with. Early intervention is the best choice for North Little Rock residents living with rheumatoid arthritis.